Star Trek Hunter
Episode 22: Sacrifice
Scene 15: The Destroyer of Worlds
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22.15
The Destroyer of Worlds
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"...But what we did not know was that the wreck we were in was, in fact, a great machine, designed, manufactured and until about a half million years ago, maintained to preserve life in our galaxy..." Behind Justice Minerva Irons, the enormous viewer displayed the vast debris field suddenly turning a brilliant green in some sections, while much larger sections remained unprotected.

"Deus ex Machina," intoned Irons. She stepped away from the viewer and returned to her seat. The viewer could be plainly seen behind her. "We were saved by the great machine. Only a few parts of this machine still work. We were fortunate enough to be in one of those still functional parts."

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Behind Justice Irons, the viewer shifted to a display of the great ring structure around a star. "And so we came to the cradle of the builders of this machine. The place built by the progenitors in which they transformed their own people by the billions to give them the abilities needed to construct the great machine. This was the cradle of that race – a race we have come to fear and whom we know as 'the Borg'."

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"On our return to Federation space, I was informed by one of our spies within the Romulan Star Empire about the thirty-years' war the Romulan Star Empire fought with a coalition called 'the Tell.' And I was told of a dying planet named Gamorlan, on which, I was led to believe, the empire was attempting to re-create a terrible biological weapon that had wiped out the native, pre-warp species. I was also made aware of the planet Saketh and its impending doom from gamma radiation."

"My orders to stop the romulan weapons research on Gamorlan came from the Federation Tribunal, specifically Chief Justice Scrivax. As you may or may not know, the Federation Tribunal does not have authority to conduct operations outside of the Federation. Such missions can only be authorized with the support of one of the founding governments. Our support came from the Vulcan High Command in Exile in the person of Saoron, the Vulcan Premiere in Exile."

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"Your honors, I want to thank you for your indulgence in allowing me to tell the story of all three of my incursions into romulan space. I will now speak directly to the crimes with which I am charged."

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Irons paused to take a drink of water. The room remained dead silent – the hundreds of observers barely willing to breathe.

Behind the elderly accused woman, the large viewscreen now displayed the actively volcanic planet of Gamorlan.

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"We managed to hide our ship on the surface of Gamorlan – a dying world under the sentence of sterilization – within 31 years this planet will be sterilized by gamma radiation. But there was still some life on this world when we arrived. I sent an expedition, led by my first and second officers, to determine whether there was any truth to the allegation that the empire was trying to recreate the biological weapon that the Gamorlan people had used to exterminate their own race."

"I was informed by my officers that this was confirmed. I learned later that this confirmation consisted of one of my telepathic crew members reading the mind of a klingon operative – whose mission was similar to ours – who had, in turn, tortured a confession from a romulan researcher."

"Based on this scant confirmation, I ordered the destruction of Gamorlan. As we were escaping the ruin of Gamorlan, the I.R.W. Fero came out of warp into orbit and was caught up in the ruin of the planet. The Fero managed to escape the Gamorlan gravity well, unlike a romulan freighter that was in orbit. The freighter was lost with all hands. All romulan researchers on the planet were killed. And a large number of romulans aboard the Fero were killed when a volcanic mass, ejected from the dying planet, smashed into the ship."

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Behind Justice Irons, the viewer displayed dramatic telemetry of an exploding planet, an enormous freighter being caught in the spray of volcanic mass and the narrow escape of the Fero - only to be hit by an enormous chunk of volcanic mass ejected from the planet.

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"My first and second officers were missing in action. We searched for several days, but, short on supplies and in danger of being discovered, we finally retreated to Federation space. Our third incursion was approved by Star Fleet's Executive Director of Operations, Fleet Admiral Miriam Stewart, and was the last order she gave before being dishonorably discharged for her complicity in the Fall of Vulcan."

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Behind Irons, the viewer displayed the interior of the Bestia as the Hunter was captured and engulfed in the Bestia's largest hangar bay.

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"We were found, taken prisoner, and treated very well by Supreme Commander Sela. We were placed in an environment within which we could have found peace. I could have found peace. To be honest, I did not want to leave that prison. To spend the remainder of my days farming, tending to life instead of destroying it…"

There was a powerful wistfulness in Irons' voice.

"But I could not allow the security of the U.S.S. Hunter to be breached. Nor would I allow my crew to remain enslaved - even if it would have been soft slavery. By means that I am not at liberty to discuss, I was able to summon the borg. And I used them mercilessly to create a distraction so that my people could escape."

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The viewer behind Irons displayed the ship's telemetry as it exited the I.R.W. Bestia, then details of the space battle between the enormous romulan battlegod and two borg cubes.

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"Again, using tactics I am not at liberty to discuss, we destroyed the second borg vessel. Our estimates of borg casualties agree with the estimate given by Commander Hundeeth – probably as many as a million on the second cube alone, not to mention the greater number on the first cube which was eventually destroyed by the I.R.W. Bestia."

The viewer was displaying the explosion of the second cube, then the screen went dark and was retracted back below the table. At the same time as the viewscreen was going down behind her, Justice Minerva Irons stood up, slowly, painfully. The air in the room smelled stale… More stale than the Reager Sea…

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"Your honors, Supreme Commander Sela, I am guilty of the crimes against the Romulan Star Empire and the romulan people with which I have been accused. And the Federation played a role in these crimes by authorizing my incursions into romulan space."

"As payment for its corporate culpability and surety of continued peace between our people, the Federation will offer the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems to be incorporated into the Romulan Star Empire and further, will assist the empire in transplanting the biosphere of doomed Saketh into those star systems."

"Regarding the crimes with which I am accused, I take full responsibility. I gave the order to destroy Gamorlan. I gave the order to summon the borg. I gave the order to escape from the I.R.W. Bestia. And I gave the order to destroy the second borg cube. These crimes are my responsibility."

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The silence in the room had taken on a different feel. Instead of forgetting to breathe, the hundreds of romulans, vulcans and humans felt as though they could not breathe. Something of the light had gone out in Justice Irons' eyes. It felt as if all the joy of life that had ever existed had been snuffed out and all that was left was howling emptiness. Irons' voice had become hollow and gravelly, exhausted. She was no longer making an effort to conceal how difficult it had become for her to speak – it sounded as though gravel was flying about in her throat. Somehow even those in the highest part of the amphetheater could see every line on her face… the pores in her skin… her mouth seeming to distort as she spoke… nausea and irrational fear…

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"I do not ask your forgiveness. I am not throwing myself on your mercy. My work is not yet done. The biosphere of Saketh must be transplanted from its doomed location before that planet is sterilized by a massive gamma burst. And another populated planet with a pre-warp civilization, as yet undiscovered by the empire, exists within the Romulan Star Empire. These innocents must be saved. And to save those people, I must make it impossible for them to remain."

Irons took a deep breath, spoke more clearly, more loudly. "To all who can hear my voice, I am Justice Minerva Irons no longer. I forsake the title Justice. Given the crimes I have committed and the crimes I will yet commit, I can no longer pretend to that title." Irons' voice seemed to grow – becoming enormous and hollow… "And I forsake the name Irons. I no longer represent the moral code of that great family and can never again advise my kindred as their matriarch."

Irons' gravelly voice had grown even louder – at once filling the courtroom and evoking a howling void within her listeners… More and more of them were clasping their ears… hyperventaliting… The room was changing shape, bringing her ancient face closer… too close… "I forsake the name Minerva – I was named after the goddess of wisdom, the protector of life. My role has changed. I am no longer the protector of life."

Irons' voice had become overwhelming, an ocean of sound… A sound as dead as the Regar Sea… Seeming to shake the foundation of the Imperial Administration Building… A rising wave of nausea and terror poured into the ears, hearts and minds of her listeners… Vulcans and romulans clasping their ears to hold back the painful torrent of sound… Frozen in terror… Gasping in terror… Everything tasted wrong… Shadow monsters lurked in every corner, leeching color from the room…

"Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds, the Monster of Saketh, the Terror of the Romulan People, the Scourge of the Innocent. If you must address me by name, you may address me as Shiva. Life cannot thrive without death. I have always striven to be a life force. But now…" Irons' voice trailed off… "I am so old, I am so tired…" her voice was just a whisper now… She raised her eyes sorrowfully toward the ceiling. "I am become Death…"

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Sela stood up suddenly, an instinct. Then everyone else heard it, felt it, saw it, a swirl of lights, a familiar whining sound…

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"NO! IT IS NOT POSSIBLE! THIS IS A SHIELDED FACILITY!" Sela shrieked, only to have her voice drowned in the ensuing chaos as a transporter beam removed the accused from her courtroom…

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22 – Sacrifice